June 27, 2005

Does Education Equal Intelligence?

Over the course of my life (most recently over at Grau's) I have been accused of being poorly educated, owing to a lack of what is seen as proper schooling (I didn't go to college or university). I am very lucky though. I come from a family of very intelligent people, all intelligent in different ways. My grandad was for example, one of the first system analysts in the UK in the 50's when punch cards were being used to progam computers, my dad patented a variety of light engineering electro-plating inventions and my mom went through to get her degree and masters.

However I did none of this. Almost everything I know I taught myself. By that I mean that the important skills for life, rather than the basic literacy and numeracy skill syou should be taught in school. Rather than hinder my life I have found this to be the opposite and I am constantly learning from others (thank you Sally) or teaching myself whatever I need to know.

I cannot work in a structured environment, and must be free to make and learn from my mistakes (it made for some interesting experiences when I taught myself how to repair TV's!). From this it has enabled me to travel the world, live places I would never have dreamed of, meet people but most of all, throughout the whole of this, earn the respect of the people who I have worked for and with. I digress. Most people who talk to me or know me are surprised by the broad and deep knowledge I have of a variety of subjects, and are amazed when they find I have no degree. It has never occured to them before.

So you, the people out there with there college degrees, does education equal intelligence? Who are the people you respect and are they self taught, or formally educated, or both?

Posted by AlexC at June 27, 2005 01:37 PM

Eductation does not equal intelligence and Intelligence does not equal Education.

I know some very book smart people, however you put them into an everyday situation and they just don't function well. They have advanced degree's and many years of schooling.

Then again I also know some people that have the potential of being very intelligent, with some education. They just never had the opportunity to really flex their mind.

Posted by: Contagion at June 27, 2005 01:45 PM

I have an honours degree, and bearing in mind our Universities are supposed to be some of the best in the world, Alex makes me feel thick quite a lot of the time!

It's like anything really. I taught myself how to play the piano while I was in Pre-School. I had a few years of lessons, passed some exams, but I'm a better musician than my ex-colleague, who read Music at Oxford.

Contagion's comment reminds me of a friend who was studying physics at Cambridge. She went to change a lightbulb, discovered it was hot, so wrapped her hand in a wet cloth, and got electrocuted! I guess it wasn't applied physics :-)

Posted by: Sally at June 27, 2005 05:30 PM

Education does equal intelligence.


That education doesn't have to be in the formal (university) sense.

Education is learning something you did not know, hence whether you taught yourself, had someone teach you or just read a manual you are still learning which means you are educating yourself.

College does not make a person, it's what they learn that makes a person.

So if you bitch about being in a job in which your slinger burgers and complaining about needing an education then by all means go get one. But if your slinging burgers and are happy with that position then by all means you don't need any more education.

Because intelligence isn't inbred, you don't just wake up and know how to do something you had to learn how to do it.


Education does most certainly equal intelligence.

Posted by: Machelle at June 27, 2005 05:53 PM

More than either, I'm impressed by people who habitually set off to find answers to whatever questions pop into their heads.

The proper response to "I don't know" is "let's find out".

Posted by: Harvey at June 28, 2005 01:39 PM

I was gonna comment, but I noticed that you are looking for people with degrees, so I don't qualify. :^(

However, from my "uneducated lout" standpoint, they are only tied together in the way that Machelle described above. It's unfortunate that a college education is assumed to anly be something an intelligent person can get. Most of us know that a sheepskin does not determine a person's ability, or whether they succeed or fail.

Posted by: Johnny - Oh at June 29, 2005 01:24 AM

I don't believe education equals intelligence at all, even by the definition Machelle put forth.

I think the concept she was going for is that knowlege=education (formal or otherwise), and vice versa.

To me intelligence is how well your mind processes and deals with information and concepts.

To use a computer analogy, intelligence is your processor and RAM (speed and capacity of information manipulation) and knowlege is the information accumulated on the hard drive.

You can take an illiterate person with an exceptionally high IQ and they would be able to learn to read and write fairy easy. Take another illiterate person, but with an exceptionally low IQ, and they won't be able to assimilate and retain the same information.

Personally, given the depth of ideological indoctrination and politically correct crap posing as education these days, I respect someone who seeks knowlege for its own sake much more than someone who does so for a parchment to hang on their wall.

Take my father for instance. He has no college degree. He started out as a draftsman right out of the Marine Corp at a local company. When he had his stroke in 1997, he was a mechanical designer with Sundstrand. To give you an idea what that entailed, one of his last projects was some incredibly complicated doohicky for a jet aircraft. They gave him specs (IE: it has to do this, has to fit here, etc.) and he would basically invent it on paper. He had a team of engineers (all with bachelor degrees or higher) working under him on the project. Before that, he worked at a place designing robots to put other stuff together (they'd give him a finished part, describe the assembly process, and he had to invent a robot to build the part).

Anyone saying that my father was less intelligent than the college degree holding engineers working for him is seriously wrong.

Posted by: Graumagus at June 29, 2005 03:48 AM

I have 98.6 degrees, but they're not college types, so I won't comment.

Posted by: That 1 Guy at June 29, 2005 05:05 AM

Oops... I did anyway. Sorry 'bout that! :)

Posted by: That 1 Guy at June 29, 2005 05:06 AM

But Grau - how does one go about getting the knowledge?

To get knowledge one must learn, by learning something you are educating yourself. By educating yourself you are raising your intelligence.

Posted by: Machelle at June 29, 2005 06:20 PM

I think you CAN raise your intelligence (i.e. your CAPACITY to retain & use knowledge) with practice. The more you use your mind, the stronger it grows. But I suspect that each person generally has an upper limit on that capacity based on physiology.

Posted by: Harvey at June 30, 2005 04:54 PM

You missed my point, Machelle. An idiot savant can memorize an encyclopedia but wouldn't have a clue how to actually use that information in a real world setting.

I agree with Harvey that you can increase your intelligence by exercising your mind, but the simple accumulation of knowlege doesn't mean that your mind is more agile, that you're "smarter", than another person.

Posted by: Graumagus at July 1, 2005 08:13 PM

But Grau - In my meaning (maybe I am not conveying that thought very well) by educating yourself you are understanding what your learning and will beable to use that information. Thus making yourself smarter in the process thus making you more intelligent.

Posted by: Machelle at July 5, 2005 07:49 PM
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